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Julius Peppers growing into role with Packers

Posted Aug 21, 2014

All eyes will be on safeties on Friday night

GREEN BAY—The schemes Dom Capers has planned for Julius Peppers won’t be on display, but Packers fans will get their longest look of the preseason at Peppers when the Packers host the Raiders on Friday night in Game 3 of the preseason.

“He’s just getting comfortable,” Packers linebackers coach Winston Moss said of Peppers, who stole the show in at least one of the Packers practices this week. “He’s working hard. It’s important to him.”

Peppers and the No. 1 defense, a subject of great concern for Packers fans, are expected to play into the second quarter on Friday. It could turn out to be the starters’ final tune up for the season opener in Seattle.

“The third preseason game, you’re looking to play your frontline guys a little more. I’d like to see us continue to play the run the way we are. When you play the run well, you win on first down and control down and distance, and then comes pressure on the quarterback,” Capers, the Packers’ defensive coordinator, said.

Peppers was signed in free agency to provide a pass-rush complement to Clay Matthews, but Peppers showed what he can do against the run in consecutive plays in Tuesday’s half-line drills. He delivered punishing blows to blockers, creating two of the loudest thumps of training camp.

“He’s got a physical presence. That was encouraging,” Capers said.

Capers has indicated he favored drafting Peppers with the first overall pick of the 2002 draft, when Capers was the head coach of the expansion Texans. GM Charley Casserly selected quarterback David Carr.

“He would’ve been doing pretty much what he’s doing now,” Capers said.

Actually, Capers might’ve meant Peppers would’ve been doing what Peppers isn’t doing now but will be doing when Capers reveals his regular-season plans for Peppers in the opener against the Seahawks.

Expectations for Peppers?

“Leadership, production, impact, game-changer,” Moss said. “It’s like pulling teeth for him to show emotion, but he’s always paying attention. He’s taking it all in. He wants to work. He wants to be accountable.”

Against the Raiders, Capers wants his defense to “take a step,” and all eyes will be on the safety position, where it appears five players – Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo – are competing for two starting jobs.

“There’s really good competition. Probably the best competition since I’ve been here,” Capers said of the safety position.

“He’s still learning the defense,” safeties coach Darren Perry said of Clinton-Dix, the Packers’ first-round pick. “Right now, you see flashes.

“I don’t think we’ve named the starters just yet. We still have two games to determine that,” Perry added.

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